Thursday, April 5, 2012

While Catalans Study in Shacks, Andalusians Are Paid to Study

Cuts on education budgets are happening all over Europe. In the United Kingdom, spending on education has been slashed by 17% in the last 2 years. Public spending in education in the UK is “falling fastest since 1950s.” More than half of the schools in the UK faced cuts to their budgets in 2011. In France, the situation is bad for public education as well. This coming September, about 14,000 teachers will lose their jobs if the government’s proposal goes forward. Public schools will lose 70,000 workers if this plan comes through—affecting not only teachers, but other school workers as well. Cuts on the education budget risk undermining the economy. These are only some of hundreds of examples of public spending cuts. However, there is an exception: the Spanish region of Andalusia.

In 2010, Andalusia’s government created a new kind of scholarship. They call it “Beca 6000.” Students are paid to, well, study. Not kidding. Whereas in Europe most people pay to be able to study, in Andalusia, thousands of people are paid to do so. These paychecks range between 145€ and 645€ per month. The government is actually promoting it, as you can see in the attached video. Actually, this is not the only kind of free ride students receive in Andalusia, but it is certainly the most bizarre one in this poor region.

In Catalonia, there is simply not enough money to support such initiatives. Catalan students comprise a 16% of all university students in Spain. In theory they should receive about 16% of all scholarships. But surprisingly, they only get 9% of all scholarships. Once again, we must look to Andalusia and Extremadura to know where the money goes: Andalusia receives 21% of scholarships; Extremadura receives 24% of it. This amount represents almost half of the total budget. In fact, students in Andalusia receive other scholarships similar to Beca 6000. The government has a website just to promote them.

In contrast, Catalonia is one of the few European countries where classes are held in ramshackle cottages. Nowadays 20,000 Catalan students pay to study in shacks. Notice that they pay to study, they are not being paid for it. In Catalonia, there are some 1,000 school shacks because there is just not enough money to build proper schools. In Madrid and Andalusia, they have proper buildings for all schools. Last year, the government of Catalonia tried to hire 1,245 additional teachers, but the central Spanish government blocked this initiative. In contrast, Andalusia’s government increased its teaching force by 3,796 teachers. This begs the question of why France, with a population of 64 million people, is getting rid of 14,000 teachers, while Andalusia, with just 8 million people, is increasing this figure by almost 4,000!
All over Europe, state budgets are being slashed. Catalonia has suffered one of the most severe cuts—a 10% decrease. However, in Andalusia there are no budget cuts: the budget has increased by 1.1%. The European commission is aware of the “budget cuts of unprecedent proportions” in Catalonia. We at Help Catalonia have already explained where Catalan taxes go. Later on, we will elaborate on where European taxes go as well—they go to the the very same people. Andalusia receives almost 20% of the funds that the European Union gives to Spain. Catalonia receives only 1.8% of this money. That is because Catalonia is “rich” (20,000 students in shacks), while Andalusia is “poor” (scholarships for 5,000 students). We’re happy Andalusia can pay for their students to study. But why do they keep taking away from Catalonia when we can’t afford it anymore?

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